Rick Steiner in Exxon

David Morse - George B.


The Post-Polio Institute and The International Centre for Post-Polio Education and Research

September 3, 2002
Contact Kathleen Mathieu: 201-939-1844

Polio Survivors’ “Unsung Heroes” to be Honored by International Post-Polio Task Force

Mia Farrow, Senator Bill Bradley, actor David Morse, and Congressman Steve Rothman will be among those honored with the David Bodian Memorial Award by the International Post-Polio Task Force for their efforts on behalf of polio survivors. The awards ceremony will be held on Monday, September 9, at 9 AM at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center.

The Bodian Awards will be presented by Dr. Richard L. Bruno, chairperson of the International Post-Polio Task Force, an organization dedicated to educating the estimated 20 million polio survivors around the world about Post-Polio Sequelae, or “PPS.” “PPS symptoms include unexpected and disabling fatigue; muscle weakness; muscle and joint pain; sleep disorders; heightened sensitivity to anesthesia, cold and pain; and difficulty in swallowing and breathing,” says Bruno, who is author of The Polio Paradox and director of The International Centre for Post-Polio Education and Research and The Post-Polio Institute at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center. PPS, about which many physicians and polio survivors themselves are unaware, occurs 35 years after the initial poliovirus attack in 75% of paralytic and 40% of non-paralytic polio survivors.

“The Bodian Awards are being presented in 2002 for the first time because
this is the 50th anniversary of North America's most devastating polio epidemic, one that affected nearly 60,000 people," Bruno explained. 2002 has been designated the "Year of the Polio Survivor" and September as "Polio Survivors Month" by New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey.

Congressman Rothman is being honored for his four-year effort to provide Social Security benefits for polio survivors. In 1998, it was brought to the Congressman’s attention that polio survivors were often denied benefits due to lack of information and training on the part of Social Security staff. Over the next three years, he repeatedly wrote and called Social Security officials, asking that denials be reviewed, guidelines be updated to include the latest research on PPS, and local Social Security officials be educated about PPS and required to follow established guidelines. In March 2001, the
Social Security Commissioner agreed to all of Congressman Rothman's requests, fulfilling the promise of Social Security benefits for polio survivors.

"The award is named for Dr. David Bodian, the first 'unsung hero' of PPS, whose research in the 1940s explained how damage the poliovirus did to the body set the stage for PPS," said Bruno. It was Bodian who discovered that there are three separate polioviruses and uncovered the path the viruses follow, from the blood and then into the brain and spinal cord. This discovery made polio vaccines possible. "What isn't known is that Bodian spent nearly every evening during the early 1950s on the phone with Jonas
Salk, helping him to develop the first polio vaccine,” said Bruno.

Bodian also found that 96% of motor neurons were damaged by the poliovirus, but that 59% could be killed without muscles showing any weakness. “David Bodian explained why those who had so-called 'non-paralytic' polio have PPS today,” continued Bruno. “Dr. Bodian also found that the poliovirus damaged the brain stem activating system, whether or not it damaged the spinal cord, explaining why brain fatigue is the most common PPS symptom.

The David Bodian Memorial Award will also recognize the following other unsung heroes of Post-Polio Sequelae.

Senator Bill Bradley and David Morse

Bradley, Morse, and BrunoDavid Morse is an award-winning actor of stage and screen, currently starring in the new CBS TV Friday night series Hack. In 1986, David was a member of the St. Elsewhere cast when he agreed to film a public service announcement about PPS. In May 1987, Morse paid his own way to Washington, DC to unveil the announcement. Once there, he found himself on a more important mission. The Social Security disability income guidelines for polio survivors who are no longer able to work had been shelved. The actor went to Capitol Hill to lobby for their release. Senator Bill Bradley was the only legislator who met with David in person and then wrote to the Social Security Commissioner to ask that the guidelines be released. Because of David Morse and Senator Bradley, the guidelines were released that August, allowing American polio survivors to receive Social Security disability income. (Shown in the photo, Senator Bill Bradley, David Morse, and Dick Bruno, Chairperson of the International Post-Polio Task Force. Click on the photo for a larger version)

Debra Refson

Polio survivor Debra Refson conceived of The Post-Polio Letter, a one-page description of the cause and treatment of PPS. It was Refson’s idea to ask all who see The Post-Polio Letter, whether they had polio or not, to take the letter to their doctors. Using this “each one teach one” approach, it is her goal that every polio survivor and doctor in the world learn about PPS.

Since March, 2002 The Post-Polio Letter, which has been translated into five languages and has appeared in magazines, post-polio newsletters, and on the Internet, has reached more than 500,000 people in twenty-five countries. Debra Refson also created and now chairs The Post-Polio Institute's advisory board, directing fundraising for the newly established Polio Survivors Fund, that will provide free or low-cost PPS treatment for eligible polio survivors.

Mia Farrow and Thaddeus Farrow

Although PPS was first recognized in 1875, many polio survivors and doctors still do not know that PPS exists. Polio survivors Mia Farrow and her son, Thaddeus, are spearheading the PPS education effort by co-sponsoring The Post-Polio Letter campaign and arranging for UNICEF to distribute PPS information as part of its polio vaccination program.

Also recognized will be Hemat Wadhwani of Translation City and Harrison Lee, who have translated The Post-Polio Letter into five languages, and singer Maureen McGovern, creator of the Works of Heart Foundation. McGovern is collaborating with The Post-Polio Institute to develop a music therapy program to treat stress in polio survivors.



photo gallery

video gallery

press room






home | upcoming | photo gallery | video gallery | press room | onscreen | ontv | onvideo | onstage | biography | links | contact

         David Morse Online   ©2001-2004 MarketVisions.com, Inc.    All rights reserved.

Last modified Wednesday, November 5, 2003